On the House

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"On the House" is a new feature airing every other week on Tuesdays during Morning Edition and All Things Considered. OTH is hosted by Larkin Page-Jacobs and focuses on the restaurant and food and beverage industry. Each feature answers a question such as "How does land-locked Pittsburgh get fresh ocean fish?" or delves into deeper issues including paying cooks a living wage, and food sourcing. Subscribe to the podcast ! Have a suggestion? Email Larkin.

Episode Date
On The House: Group Targets Big Restaurant Chains To Raise Tipped Minimum Wage
Restaurant Opportunities Centers United is a national organization that advocates on behalf of restaurant workers, and Pittsburgh is home to one of its chapters. In this episode of On The House, Larkin Page-Jacobs talks to organizer Jordan Romanus and server Heather Freeman about the change they hope to see in the industry.
Dec 15, 2015
On The House: Pairing Music With Your Meal
At a restaurant or bar, details make up a diner’s experience. Lighting, décor , music -- Brooke Annibale’s embraces each to enhance the experience of eating out. She’s a Pittsburgh singer and songwriter, and works for the Big Burrito restaurant group as a music programmer. In this episode of On The House , the work of the behind-the-scenes DJ to countless meals at Mad Mex , Casbah , Eleven and Kaya .
Oct 28, 2015
On The House: The Rise And Fall Of The Restaurant Grade Proposal
One burger joint in Pittsburgh has repeatedly kept raw hamburger meat, lettuce and coleslaw at temperatures that allow bacteria to flourish. A chain restaurant’s worst violations in the past three years were a missing floor tile and a dirty floor drain. Both restaurants have maintained their approved-to-operate green stickers from the Allegheny County Health Department, but one would’ve earned a ‘C’ and the other an ‘A’ if the county’s attempts to institute a restaurant grading system had passed. Nearly all of the roughly 4,200 restaurants in the county have a green sticker — no matter whether it had five high-risk health violations in its last inspection or none. There have been two failed attempts, most recently in May, to pass an A-B-C restaurant grading system that could give consumers more refined health information at a key decision-making point — entering a restaurant. Although the Allegheny County Health Department supported the change, the county council voted the A-B-C system
Oct 07, 2015
Is Pittsburgh Becoming A 'Foodie' Destination?
Pittsburgh's evolving food scene has been gaining national attention. Is it enough to make the city the country's next great food destination? This week contributor Rebecca Harris looks at the business of food in Pittsburgh.
Sep 23, 2015
On The House: Photographing Food Just So
From vegetable garden bounties to sliced and diced ingredients to plated meals, pictures of food are ubiquitous on social media. Anyone with a smartphone can make beautiful photographs of food.
Sep 22, 2015
On The House: So You Want To Buy A Liquor License
You’ve decided to open a restaurant: the lease has been signed, renovations completed, equipment purchased and staff hired. All you have to do is buy a liquor license to get things rolling. Not so fast, says attorney Mark Flaherty. He and his firm specialize in all things liquor licensing and in this episode of On the House, Larkin Page-Jacobs talks to Flaherty about what you’ll have to do to legally pour wine, beer and spirits in your restaurant.
Sep 08, 2015
On The House: Getting Rid Of The Grease
The golden French fries and basket of wings ordered at the bar or restaurant are made delicious through the frying process. But the oil used in restaurants and commercial kitchens can’t go down the drain, so it’s set aside for pickup. Companies big and small specialize in the collection and recycling of the grease. In Pittsburgh, Fossil Free Fuel is one business that reuses the residual oil. In this segment of On The House, Larkin Page-Jacobs looks at where the grease goes.
Aug 25, 2015
On The House: Turning A Critical Eye On The City's Restaurants
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette dining critic Melissa McCart took a roundabout path on her way to Pittsburgh. She’s worked in restaurants since she was a teenager and first started writing about the dining scene in Washington D.C. in the early 2000s. She moved to south Florida to become a critic in the Ft. Lauderdale area and made the leap to the Post-Gazette three years ago. In this segment of On The House, Larkin Page­-Jacobs asks McCart about her role as a critic and what makes Pittsburgh's dining scene unique.
Jul 28, 2015
On The House: A Pivotal Pittsburgh Restaurant Prepares to Close
Salt of the Earth opened in Pittsburgh’s Garfield neighborhood in 2010, and it was unlike any restaurant the city had seen before. The menu was adventurous and ever-changing, the minimalist design was warm and the high-end food belied its location in one of the city’s poorer communities. Recently the architect-owners announced Salt would close Aug. 1 so they could focus solely on their architectural practice.
Jul 16, 2015
On The House: Tips For Baking 'Glorious' Food
In "Oliver!" the musical adaptation of Charles Dicken’s "Oliver Twist," orphan boys at a workhouse sing “food glorious food” as they fantasize about a bountiful spread. That vision is realized in the small, eponymous bakery in Pittsburgh’s Highland Park neighborhood. In this segment of On The House, Larkin Page-Jacobs talks to owner and baker Tom Hambor about the tricks and tips he’s learned over a lifetime of baking.
Jun 30, 2015
On The House: What Does It Mean To Be A 'Corporate Chef?' Less Cooking, But Still Plenty Of Food
Bill Fuller is the corporate chef for the big Burrito Group , a restaurant company that began in Pittsburgh two decades ago. Fuller grew up in Dubois, a small town a couple hours northeast of Pittsburgh and pursued degrees in chemistry before learning about the upstart restaurant group. He joined the team as a chef and today big Burrito has a portfolio of 5 specialty restaurants, 13 Mad Mex restaurants and a catering company. In this segment of On The House, Larkin Page-Jacobs visits the kitchen at Eleven in the Strip District to ask Fuller what exactly the corporate chef job entails.
Jun 17, 2015
On The House: Food As A Means Of Self-Exploration
Eating can be mundane. Throwing another item in the grocery cart, ordering the same dish at your go-to restaurant or grabbing something from the fridge. It’s all apart of the routine. But it doesn’t have to be. In this installment of On the House, food writer and teacher Jessica Server tells Larkin Page-Jacobs about using food as a conduit for mindfulness, exploration and reflection.
Jun 03, 2015
On The House: Inside Pittsburgh's Largest Produce Provider You've Likely Never Heard Of
Produce distributor Paragon Foods is a behemoth in the region, providing fresh produce, dairy and poultry to institutions large and small, including Pittsburgh Public Schools, Google, Olive Garden, Mad Mex and Meat and Potatoes — even universities, hospitals and living facilities. In this episode of On The House , Larkin Page-Jacobs visits Paragon’s Chief Operating Officer John McClelland at their Lawrenceville facility.
May 19, 2015
On The House: Paying Restaurant Workers a Living Wage
Making a living wage in the restaurant industry can be tough. Servers and bartenders rely on tips for the bulk of their income, and in the kitchen, the wage is set by the business owner. Recently the restaurant Bar Marco made waves by announcing it would pay all of its workers a living wage. But at least one restaurant in Pittsburgh — Dinette in East Liberty — has been paying above industry standard for years.
May 05, 2015
On The House: This Little Piggy Goes to Market
Meat is in demand, and prices are up — 11 percent for beef and pork from 2013-2014 . A nd as people pay more per pound at the counter, they may be more selective and interested in just how their meat gets from the farm to the butcher to the dinner table.
Apr 21, 2015